BY CATHERINE HEUZENROEDER
The parents of a Riverland girl recovering from meningococcal B are using social media to raise awareness of the potentially deadly disease.
Sarah and Aaron Parkyn know how easily they could have missed the first signs their three-year-old daughter Jazmyn had the disease.
This knowledge has driven them to share their story with others.
They have launched a petition for a publicly-funded vaccine and warn it was only a mother’s instinct and the quick response by a local GP which saved their daughter.
Just five days after Jazmyn became unwell, and while still in hospital keeping vigil against the invasive disease, the Renmark couple reached out to make a difference.
They launched a Facebook page, Jazmyn’s Meningococcal B Journey, and shared a timeline and photos documenting the rapid onset of a disease which claims the lives of between five and 10 per cent of sufferers, according to SA Health.
Even with prompt diagnosis and treatment, meningococcal B can cause significant disability including scarring, brain injury, deafness and the amputation of limbs or hands and feet.
“[We want] all parents to be vigilant and seek medical attention if any of the meningococcal symptoms present themselves,” Mr Parkyn posted on the social media page.
“Early action and treatment is the number one factor to save your child’s life.”
Quick progression of disease
The progression of Jazmyn’s meningococcal B was swift.
On the night of August 25, the bright preschooler showed flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature.
Her parents were not overly concerned as the rest of the family, which includes Jazmyn’s two older sisters, had been unwell with influenza B.
The next morning, amid the activity of getting her eldest children to school, Ms Parkyn noticed Jazmyn was showing discomfort when her legs were touched and that she had what appeared to be a heat rash.
“The next step saved our little girl’s life, as Sarah decided to see the doctor just to be on the safe side,” Mr Parkyn wrote.
At 10am that morning the doctor examined Jazmyn and detected a small, pin-prick sized dot on her chest.
During the examination a second mark appeared.
“The doctor immediately sent Jaz to hospital for monitoring, [which was] the second step that saved her life,” Mr Parkyn wrote.
Related: Read a fact sheet on meningococcal here.
By early that afternoon Jazmyn’s condition had deteriorated and a distinctive purple patchy rash rapidly spread over her arms and legs.
She was air-lifted to the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital for intensive care.